Thu, Nov 1, 2012
Champions Juventus will aim to make it 49 matches unbeaten when they host Bologna on Wednesday, while followers of Serie A will hope there is no repeat of the refereeing controversies which marred some weekend matches.
Juventus were beneficiaries of at least one wrong refereeing decision Sunday, defeating Catania 1-0 to maintain a three-point lead over Napoli despite their hosts having a valid goal disallowed for an inexistent offside.
Catania have not been the only team complaining of inconsistency, but since then the focus has been on Juve – a team considered almost untouchable by some rivals.
Juventus director general Beppe Marotta on Monday was forced to “categorically reject” all notions of a conspiracy revolving round the Old Lady of Turin.
However it is only now that Italy’s most titled Serie A club is finding redemption, several years after a ‘calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal saw Juventus stripped of two league titles (2005 and 2006).
Catania president Antonino Pulvirenti, who was ordered off the bench on Sunday, later complained that protests from the Juve bench had forced the match referee to change his mind and disallow the goal.
Claims that the linesman in charge was a fan of Juve have since been made, and denied, however the events have raised questions over the professionalism of officials in one of the world’s top leagues.
Roma dropped two points at home after Udinese were awarded a contentious late penalty while Lazio, beaten 2-0 at Fiorentina, also had what seemed like a perfectly valid goal ruled out.
It prompted outspoken Palermo president Maurizio Zamperini to tell Radio Radio: “The penalty against Roma in the final moments is just unbelievable. I’m amazed that we constantly fail to bring in technology.”
On paper, Bologna has little chance of causing an upset at Juventus stadium.
Juve’s closest challengers, Napoli, were a pale shadow of themselves during a 2-0 defeat there last week and Bologna are coming off a 3-1 home drubbing to Inter.
Inter’s seventh win of the campaign Sunday was made in Argentina, with goals coming from Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso, all of whom should be fit for the visit of Sampdoria to the San Siro.
Expectations of an Inter victory are so high that the focus has already turned to the Juve v Inter clash – a huge northern derby – this weekend.
Now third, only four points behind Juve and one behind Napoli, Inter club president Massimo Moratti admitted they, and others, could have closed the gap further had it not been for the Catania refereeing blunder.
“Everyone has thought about that, Napoli must have thought the same,” Moratti told inter.it.
“But although yesterday (Sunday) seems dramatic at the moment, it will all blow over in a few days’ time.
“What matters most is that things have happened due to error and not for other reasons. And since this was definitely a case of error, the season will balance itself out.”
Embattled Milan, sitting 11th and 15 points behind Juve, face a tricky encounter away to Palermo on Tuesday. According to Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri the Sicilians “can cause all sorts of problems”.
Elsewhere Wednesday Lazio, who slipped to fourth just behind Inter on Sunday, host a Torino side which has only two wins in nine games while Parma’a recent resurgence means they could be a test for visiting Roma.
Fixtures (all 1845 GMT)
Atalanta v Napoli, Cagliari v Siena, Chievo v Pescara, Genoa v Fiorentina, Inter v Sampdoria, Juventus v Bologna, Lazio v Torino, Parma v Roma, Udinese v Catania